Many family businesses struggle to survive into a second or third generation, but CKS Packaging Inc. is now working on a fourth.
The Atlanta-based company is the namesake of Charles K. Sewell, described as a living legend in the packaging business by his son and current CEO John R. Sewell.
The younger Sewell, who is not the youngest Sewell in the family business, says he's still learning from his 84-year-old father. And he believes he also has an obligation to also teach younger people in the company, family or not.
“At 84, it's kind of like going to class every day and getting a philosophy about life and about business and about people,” John Sewell said about working with his father.
“Just drawing on the time he's been in the business. That's how we're successful. So we do the same thing with our children and other family members. You are in a constant coaching mode of trying to teach them how to run the business. And that's what we try to do with all of our employees,” he said.
Charles Sewell should be a familiar name for folks in the plastic packaging industry as he's had his hand in two of the most ubiquitous products ever introduced.
His first company, Sewell Plastics, developed the first two-liter beverage container in 1977 for Coca-Cola Co.
And, while he did not invent the plastic dairy gallon jug, he played a huge role in helping popularize it through that first company.
“He was out there and helped push it in the Southeast in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. He was a leader, he was out there on the front line,” John Sewell said.
Charles Sewell sold Sewell Plastics in 1970 and stayed on as president until 1982. After a three-year non-compete agreement ended, he jumped back into the market to create CKS Packaging.